Starbucks Baristas Are at Risk of Being Poked by Dirty Needles

Our inboxes were flooded by concerned baristas around the city. Here are two of their stories.

Comments

1
Time for Starbucks baristas to unionize.
4
@1: And just how would that solve the needle issue?
5
You can lead a horse user to a sharps container, but you can't make him use it. I've seen garbage in the recycling and vice versa when the two cans were right next to one another. Some people just don't give a shit, and you can't force them to.

Heaping blame upon Starbucks is ludicrous. I get that the kid is angry and scared, and that the junkie responsible can't be held accountable, but the focus should be on collaborative solutions instead of pointing fingers and raging.

Maybe thicker bags in the trash receptacle would prevent needles from falling out our poking through? A paper bag combined with a plastic bag might work. Maybe they could provide those who clean the restrooms with thick rubber gloves, like the industrial kind that people use when handling hot or caustic materials.
6
Yes, training their employees for how to safely dispose of hypodermic needles and providing sharps containers in the bathrooms is a minimum that Starbucks should do. I think the company's response that to do so would hurt its public image is despicable.

SPD offers training in safe pickup and disposal of needles. Sharps containers can be purchased from any drug store. The Fire Department will dispose of sharps containers at no cost. There is no excuse for Starbucks not to be more responsible to the public and to their employees.
8
A junkie tossed a needle in the garbage. He got poked. His manager told him to go straight to the Dr and he didn't. How are you blaming Starbucks? Is every business nationwide supposed to put sharps containers in every bathroom because some fucked up junkie might use a bathroom to inject? Then you're going to trust every fucked up junkie to properly dispose of the needle they just injected with? Are you still going to blame Starbucks when they still toss the needle in the trash instead of the sharps container?
9
@5: Junkies are very ill and need treatment, but they are indeed accountable for their missdemeanors and felonies related to their public drug use depravity.
10
I wonder why not all coffee shops put up needle disposal boxes in their restrooms? Frankly, why don't we require all businesses in Seattle to do so?

11
And why didn't this guy get his ass to an ER the instant he was pricked with the needle? This is 2016: you have that happen you get your ass to the ER.
13
Starbucks has little to no concern for their in-store employees. It's clear that the people making decisions have ZERO idea about what their baristas deal with on a day-to-day basis. Bullying is rampant, both by store managers, district managers and customers, baristas are not empowered in any way, HR for store employees is a joke and drug use in bathrooms is a significant issue all over the place. Honestly, there is nothing that has ever shown me that corporate gives a damn about anyone actually working in their stores. They've created a culture of entitlement among customers and discriminatory and retaliatory behavior by management, all the way to the top.
14
@8, exactly....
I do not see how this is in any way Starbucks' responsibility.... It could have been any sort of business... Just happened to be a well known one.
How is it their job to fix any issues around the drug problem in this city more so than ANY/ ALL OTHER BUSINESSES?

I would be afraid to touch, or get accidentally bumped into the outside of a sharps box in any such (non medical) setting.... that is just asking for more trouble IMHO.
15
Training doesn't work when a barista has to take bagged trash out to the dumpster. They have no idea what's in the trash; what's the training to consist of, dumping all the trash out onto the floor so a needle can possibly be seen?. And then what? Heavy padded or rubber gloves are the only practical answer.
16
Starbucks just needs to invest in some good ten foot wooden poles to leave by the dumpsters. Not only would they make it so people are not tempted to reach into dumpsters (never do that), they are excellent for disarming traps, testing strange holes in walls, and testing how far down dark pits go.

Back when I worked jobs that involved dumpsters, I just used a broom though.
17
Proper accident response and reporting should be a part of every business' compliance program. After the incident happened they should have known what to do and then counter measured to figure out how this doesn't happen again. This is pretty much a part of every large employer's policy for limiting legal liability and preventing loss from workers comp.
18
I don't think it is fair to write this article focused on Starbucks. I worked in Office Max in my teens and dealt with needles in the trash, drugs stashed in the bathroom ceilings and found a used crack spoon on the sales floor. This problem is rampant in every space with public restrooms. This has been treated the same across many if not all businesses. Starbucks would be likely to add hazardous waste bins if asked, however that would do little to help this issue. Some policies in Seattle and around the country are needed and all companies should move towards safer waste handling procedures.
19
Feel sorry for Starbucks employees who may get stuck by a needle but the homeowner in Ballard that has to pick them up from his driveway is an asshole. Glad we got that cleared up.
20
Working at Payless Drugs at 4th and Pike in the early 90s, a co-worker emptying the bathroom trash was stuck with a needle. She left and there was some sort of settlement, but the facts kinda snowballed into urban legend status from there as to whether or not she contracted anything from the incident.

The best solution I can see is improving the receptacles and the process in which they're emptied. No taking out bagged trash. Carry, on a cart in necessary, either the whole cans or the plastic liner them fancy Euro kitchen numbers have out to the dumpster. You'll been cleaning garage water off your floor less often as an added bonus.
21
*be, not "been"
22
Because this would NEVER happen at a McDonald's, Taco Bell, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Panera, etc. This is no more the fault of Starbucks than any other employer. For their employees sake they need to find an adequate & safe solution, but the blame goes solely to the scumbag who put it there without a second though as to who else may come in contact with it.
23
Here's a news flash: Starbucks can spout all day long about how they care about the well being of their "partners" but words are just words. The suits don't give a damn. I worked at an Atlanta, GA Starbucks and cut my shin open on the edge of the sanitizing machine's door. Some idiot "partner" had opened the door just as I was hurrying by to fulfill someone's order. The rusty edge caught my shin and ripped a four inch gash in my right leg. Blood was pouring down my leg and into my sock and my manager wouldn't let me stop and take care of it until one huge line of customers had been served. My manager begrudged me the time I took off to see a doctor. I had other injuries while I worked there and every time, the manager would grumble about how much time he was wasting, writing up an injury incident report. He was this gung ho "it takes teamwork to make the dream work" asshole who let his friends at work do whatever the hell they wanted (including stealing other partners' tips) and burdened the few of us he didn't like. This jerk-off got promoted, as did his cronies. They broke every rule that they could and still got raises and promotions.

So, no, I am not surprised about the needles risk. I'm angry and saddened about this but my advice to any current Starbucks "partners" is: Do whatever you have to do to get as far away as fucking possible from Starfucks. They don't give a damn about you or your health. None of their "perks" are worth your sanity and health. Go to college, study your ass off, do whatever you have to do to get a better job, please! Starfucks is EVIL.
24
"Starbucks might have just ruined my life.'"- no, a fucking junkie did.

@19- perfect.
26
I see a lawsuit for the person pricked and the supervisor whose response was just "see a doctor."
27
Sharps boxes in Starbucks restrooms – What could possibly go wrong? Curious kids or stupid, drunken, or desperate people raiding the "tamper proof" boxes? Just be more careful when handle commercial garbage – it's 2016.
28
I recently worked in a (union) place with a sharps container in the public bathroom. It worked. The junkies used it. It made workers safer. Users gonna use, and workplaces in Seattle of all places should have to protect their employees with this basic common sense measure. This city is a zombie apocalypse of junkies. Of course it's not "just Starbucks", but now all businesses know that they could be publically singled out for refusing to protect their workers for the sake of their corporate image.
30
@28: It's not necessarily anything to do with "corporate image." If the busybodies get angry about catering to junkies with sharps containers, the company could roll out some plausible deniability. "Oh no, it's for insulin syringes for diabetics, epipens for people with food allergies, fertility drugs for women trying to conceive," etc., etc. "We're always looking for new ways to accommodate our customers with special medical needs and disabilities! We feel that it's best to go above and beyond the ADA" blah blah blah.

@9: I get that junkies are theoretically legally accountable, but short of surveillance cameras pointing directly in the stalls or a check of the trash receptacle after every person uses it, there are practical limitations to the ability to track down whodunnit.